Wednesday, July 1, 2015

First Monarch Caterpillars of 2015

Earlier today I wandered into the field behind the office with the intent to take photos of bumble bees. Despite the cool weather, the bees were definitely active.  In fact they were almost too active and I didn't get any photographs that I was happy with.  After a few minutes I decided to look for a different photography subject.  I started taking pictures of Common Milkweed (Asclepia syriaca) plants.  I really liked the contrast between the fresh green leaves and last year's empty seedpods.

Common Milkweed - fresh leaves and old seedpods

I liked this subject so much that I started wandering around looking for the perfect angle.  That's when I found this.

Monarch caterpillar on Common Milkweed
My first Monarch (Danaus plexippus) caterpillar of 2015.  It was happily munching away on a Common Milkweed flower.  This caterpillar was in its fifth instar - that means it has moulted or shed its exoskeleton four times.  It won't be long before it forms a chrysalis and becomes an adult butterfly.

Fifth instar Monarch caterpillar eating a Common Milkweed flower (cropped image)

After taking a bunch of photos of this caterpillar I turned to walk back into the office and spied a second fifth instar caterpillar resting on a milkweed leaf tucked down in the grass.  I imagine that if I had done more searching I could probably find more caterpillars in the field.

My second Monarch caterpillar of 2015

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